Interview: Boys Noize Talks About Eclectic Influences and Artistic Integrity
During Sound on Sound Festival in Austin, Texas I got the chance to link up with Alexander Ridha, better known by his stage name Boys Noize. As the German electronic music producer and DJ got to the festival the previous set, Aesop Rock, blared in the background.
We began to talk about about his origins. Boys Noize is from Hamburg, Germany; Hamburg is located three hours North West of the techno capital of the world, Berlin. The two cities were polar opposites in their respective seminal periods: Hamburg was the birth place of house as we know it, Berlin was known for its underground techno. “Hamburg wasn’t much of a rave scene in the nineties. There was a sort of gore jungle scene maybe, but not techno music” says Ridha, “when I started to get into electronic music hamburg was pretty much all about house, deep house, and vocal house. So, when I was thirteen I started to buy records. Most of those records were records I knew from my older brother and they were all of these old house records.”
Boys Noize is a collector, someone who draws influence from a variety of different sources. His obsession with music led him to a job at a Hamburg record store where he perused the bins week after week, “I got really addicted,” he says to me as he laughs, “I bought a lot of vinyl and some turntables. There was a lot of punk and house music, not as much rave. It was a lot different in Berlin because Berlin was the techno city and Hamburg was the house city, and they weren’t really fucking with each other, until all of the stuff began to merge in the early 2000’s.”
Part of the reason that the two scenes eventually merged was the accessibility between them. Artists could take a bus to Hamburg or Berlin for a weekend. Ridha recalls, “I did regular trips there for the Love Parade. I was basically raving. The first time I went was in like 95′ or 96′ and every year on till like 2000. Then sadly in the year 2003 it closed because there was like half a million to a million people. It was becoming more commercial in the sense that it wasn’t as much a gathering than it was a full blown event. Trucks playing had banners with marketing, and it destroyed the park. Finally at one point the city of Berlin said ‘this is no demonstration anymore this is an event.’ “
An eclectic artist by nature, Boys noize picked things up from everywhere that he visited. “I’m weirdly influenced by Mantronix, who was a rap producer from New York City in the 80’s. He was one of the first to produce rap records with the 303. But, you know, I’m more influenced by disco. “The cool thing about acid house or acid techno is it’s been there since the late 80s and it never dies. I could go to a record store any week and there will definitely be acid house records” he says, going on to say that “As a DJ I at least play 2 or 3 acid records a night.”
I asked Ridha if he though he is majorly influenced by acid house records, to which he didn’t necessarily agree. “My music isn’t acid music. I’ve produced a bunch of acid records, that’s for sure. Like ten ten is probably the most known acid record. It’s a very specific sound, but again, it’s just one part of my album and my discography, but not all of my albums are acid.”
“You like to keep your DJ style eclectic, playing a variety of different sounds?” I note. “Funny enough, as a DJ back then I always kind of fought against the strict thinking of like techno DJ’s” he says, “they can be very strict thinking and pure with what they do, it’s the same with house. Gladly it changed up.”
Ridha talked about a few of the producers that were instrumental in breaking the strict mold in electronic music. “One of the reasons is guys like 2manydjs influenced all the bootleg stuff started to happen, they were one of the early ones that started to bridge the sound.” Ridha noted that he loved outside influences on dance music. “I loved the punk influence into electronic music when bands started to move into it.”
An eclectic producer and DJ, Ridha makes a point to break the boundaries of genere and conventionality. “I always fought against the strict interpretation of it. As a DJ I like to play techno, house, breaks, acid, disco, industrial, EDM…. all in one set, and I love it. For my own music I’m always, I don’t know, I guess I’m not based in one genre. I just go with the flow. My goal is to create a sound that I don’t play and doesn’t exist yet” says the German producer/DJ.
“You try to maintain a level of artistic integrity” I say. He responds:
“Yeah, I think that’s the most important thing you can have today. That’s where a lot of colleagues or friends, you know it doesn’t really work for them because it lacks this integrity or vision. People jump on it and it becomes a business and that isn’t what I’m doing. I make music, that’s my reasoning I want to make music that i really love.”